A Developmental Moment #5: Patience as a Concept and Practice

Expanding our Patience While Limiting our Reactivity By Understanding and Practicing Our Emotional Intelligence

The past few weeks, I’ve been thinking more about patience, and just how important being patient is in all aspects of life. For sure, patience was, and is, something that I continue to be present to, as patience was, and still is in some ways, something that is a developmental opportunity for me.

How do you feel about the concept and practice of patience? Do you think it affects how we interpret the world, and how we, for instance, function at home and work?

I think it does affect all aspects of our lives, whether we are aware or not.

In this post, we’ll explore a couple of ways to expand the concept of patience by unpacking the stimulus response system, and by exploring ways we can increase our patience, or, conversely, decrease our reactivity. Ready? Good. Here we go.

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The Stimulus Response System

In some ways we are programmed to respond to our environments. As we navigate our environments, our brain takes in data and information, let’s call them inputs, processes them, and then runs through a selection of outputs, or responses. Pretty simple, yes?

Yep, pretty straightforward. The issue? Good question. Well, if we never question our responses, and simply react, we can become reactive, which means that an event occurs and we react without pause. Super helpful in an emergency situation.

In a non-emergency situation, however, it is not always as helpful. There are ways, however, that we can slow down the stimulus response system, which creates a space for more choice.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence has been written about for a long time. Very simply, having emotional intelligence means that you understand that there is a space between a stimulus and response, and you can access this space. Accessing the space between a stimulus and response, also means that you are able to make more choices and handle emotions that arise more readily. Important.

Learning about and practicing emotional intelligence is important for all aspects of life, and is particularly effective in our relationships. When we can slow down and increase our choices, we, at the same time, increase the outcomes that are possible in each situation.

Home and Work

As we learn more about our emotional selves we create the opportunity to reduce reactivity, and understand our own humanity. For instance, anger was something that was present for me a lot of my adult life. There are many reasons this is so, knowing today, I was only ever upset with myself for not living the fullest life possible. Knowing this is helpful.

Additionally, understanding that anger can arise, and not mean that I am an angry person is also helpful. We must be careful with the concepts we internalize. If we internalize concepts, such as anger, as part of who we are as a human being, we then become an angry person. It’s just how it works. If, however, we understand that anger is an emotion that, like our thoughts, will arise, yet is not indicative of who we are as a human being, we are immediately freed from the concept. Super helpful and liberating.

Further, it is important to understand that our emotions not only affect us, they affect everyone around us, even if we are unaware. It’s not possible, for example, to carry anger, and to not give it out. We will. And, when we do, then all we see is anger, because, in fact, that’s what we are creating.

However, when we learn about and practice strategies that can increase our emotional intelligence, and at the same time, slow down our reactivity, we have new choices. New ways of being, and of releasing old concepts that we once believed in.

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Closing Thoughts

Emotional intelligence has a direct impact on our patience. When we slow down our impulse to react to external stimuli, such as other people and events, and internal stimuli, such as thoughts and emotions, we create a space to choose being patient over being reactive. Important.

And, in the space we create to be more patient, we get to choose from a plethora of ways to respond (not react) to a person or event. Powerful.

There is one practice that has been instrumental in my practice of my own emotional intelligence, and that is meditation. I’ve written about meditation lots of times, and, in fact, it has been scientifically documented that meditation decreases reactivity.

As our reactivity decreases, we see and experience the world more slowly, our patience increases, and we are able to understand our thoughts and emotions on a deeper level. Which also means that we will understand everyone in our lives that much better as well.

And, when we understand ourselves and those we love and care about better, our relationships begin to blossom. Our relationship with ourselves, yes, and with everyone else. A beautiful cycle.

#conceptandpractice, #developmental-moment, #emotionalintelligence, #home-and-work, #leadershipdevelopment, #meditation, #patience, #reactivity, #selfawareness, #selfdevelopment, #slowing-down, #stimulusresponse, #understandingyourself

The Leadership Series Part 2: Why Developing the Self is Always the First Step in Leadership

The Leadership Psychology of How We Think and Feel

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This past week a colleague of mine and I were talking about leadership. Well, to be more accurate, we are always talking about leadership. Fun.

Anway, this colleague was talking about the upcoming leadership group training they would be facilitating, and they were talking about how important it is for leaders to understand how they think, feel, and act.

After reflecting upon the concept of thinking, feeling, and acting, which I totally agree with, another concept occured to me. Speaking. Also important.

Thus, the idea for this first-half of the two-part article on Developing the Self was created. Before we get into our discussion, however, let’s reset the first installment in the Leadership Series.

In the first installment of the Leadership Series, The Leadership Series Part 1: What is Leadership, and Why is it so Important?, we unpacked leadership as a concept and practice.

We also discussed 2 things that are very important to be clear about early on in any leadership development journey, which are

  1. Understanding yourself.
  2. Understanding your leadership style.

In this second installment, we will discuss understanding yourself as the very first step in a leadership development journey. Why? Good question.

Let’s take a look, shall we.

There are two ways we will approach this discussion.

  1. Psychologically
  2. Sociologically

Ready? Good, let’s go.

Leadership Psychology

Right, so, what in the world is leadership psychology? Well, in this context, we are going to address two main concepts. Thinking and feeling. Both are very important to understand for anyone in leadership.

If you don’t know why you think and feel as you do, you’ll never be able to understand how and why others think and feel as they do. Simple.

And, as a leader, you must understand how the people in your team, organization, business, and or family, or friend network think and feel. Very important.

Having an impact starts with us. Each of us. Understanding how and why we think and feel as we do is a necessity in any leadership role. Any and all leadership roles.

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Thinking

An entire article, nay, book can be written about how we think in regards to, well, just about everything in life. Leadership included. It’s that important.

In fact, how we think drives everything else we will discuss in this article. It all starts with the mind. The quality of our mind. Meaning? Good question.

As I’ve written about in other articles, human beings are meaning-makers. Meaning, pun intended, that we take in data, information or stimuli, and we convert those stimuli, whatever they are, into narratives.

We do this to make sense of the world, and our place in it. A simple example can illustrate this point.

If my thinking is about the past, and all of the wrongs I’ve suffered, or bad things that have happened, I will bring these thoughts, feelings, verbalizations, and actions into the present moment. And?

I, in essence, will recreate the past. Reliving, as possible, past trauma again and again. And, so will everyone else I am interacting with and in relationship with.

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However, if I am aware of my thoughts, and how I think, I can work on the thought impressions, called samskaras in sanskrit, and, over time, release them.

When they are released they stop showing up as a thought. It takes time.

These samskaras, thought impressions of old patterns and habits, loose power when you inquire into why they are there in the first place. Meaning, that creating self-awareness for a leader is a crucial aspect of leadership development.

When we have some sense of our own self, we can step outside of those thought patterns or habits and create new ones.

And, it is in the creation of new thought patterns where true empowerment is found for leaders, first, yes, for themselves, and then for their teams, organizations, families, and friends.

There are four things I do on a regular basis to increase my self-awareness.

  1. Meditation
  2. Diet
  3. Exercise
  4. Coaching

Each of these contributes to self-awareness in unique ways, and they combine to increase clarity, calmness of mind, well-being, and insight into who you are as a human being, and how you relate to yourself and everyone else. Very important.

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Feeling

As was aforementioned, how we think really does affect, even predict, how we feel, speak, and act, and how we feel on a general level and even on a more specific level, which is very important.

Important to how we relate to ourselves and everyone else.

I grew up in a household where people definitely displayed emotion, yet it was still hidden, and definitely not talked about. And, that’s not a demerit. Why?

Because my parents were not shown how to understand their emotions and then how to constructively talk about them. It is far more normal, especially in the United States, than people might imagine. And?

Not helpful to your own development, nor is it to your teams, organizations, families, or friends. If you don’t know why you feel the way you do, you will not understand how others feel.

And, if you are unable to understand how you and the people around you feel, you cannot talk about feelings in productive and constructive ways.

However, when you know how you feel, understand why you feel as you do, and learn how to talk about emotions in healthy ways, you can navigate more complex conversations and situations as they arise.

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And, in leadership roles, nay, in life, complex situations and conversations happen all the time. Sometimes every day.

In addition to meditation, diet, exercise, and weekly coaching, there are a couple of other things I do to understand my feelings and emotional state.

  1. Journaling
  2. Reflecting

Journaling, and reflecting upon how you feel, is a very important process; especially when we are truly interested in understanding how and why we feel as we do. Some questions I typically ask myself are as follows.

  1. What is the feeling that I am feeling?
  2. What is the thought that is driving that feeling?
  3. Where did that thought come from?

When you understand what you’re feeling, what thought is driving the feeling, and where the thought came from, you can begin to acknowledge the feeling.

When we can acknowledge how we truly feel, we can then release that feeling once we’ve gained true understanding. And, true understanding may mean working on a thought/feeling combination for some time.

Now, I’ve written most of this section with an assumption in mind. That, the work we do to understand how we feel, is needed mostly when we experience “negative” feelings, or emotions.

The emotions and associated feelings that bring us pain, discomfort, worry, and anxiety, for instance.

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Why is it important to work on these “negative” emotions and feelings?

Because if we don’t understand how we feel and why we feel as we do, we will regularly give out all of that “negative” emotion to other people. And?

And, then, yes, we are giving out all of our anger, frustration, sadness, or whatever other feeling we have to everyone around us, and we are doing so unintentionally.

If you want to see an example of how this looks, just go to the grocery store and hang out for a while. You will encounter someone that is completely unaware of their emotional state. It won’t take long.

It happens all the time, every day. As was aforementioned, especially in the United States, where there is still, yes even in 2020, stigma about talking about our emotions. Not helpful and extremely unhealthy.

Now, understanding our feelings does not mean that we run out and tell everyone that we meet that we are frustrated, for instance, and here are the reasons why. A paradox? Yes?

Understanding your emotions and why you feel as you do, helps you do the exact opposite.

When we understand why we feel as we do, we can hold our emotions more, and find the right times to talk about them in appropriate ways; meaning healthy and constructive ways. Very important.

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In Closing

Alright, though I have more to say on both of the aforementioned topics, for now, that concludes the first part of this second installment in the leadership series. Next?

We will take a look at Leadership Sociology. And, yep, you are correct, Leadership Sociology and Leadership Psychology are connected. They influence each other. A reciprocal relationship, if you like.

For now, remember, leadership psychology as defined here, understanding how we think and feel is an important first step in developing ourselves, yes, as leaders, and even more importantly as human beings.

When we are open to our own development, we can create contexts that are growth-oriented for everyone. It works that way.

Remember, it starts with you, with me, with each of us. Therefore, when we catch ourselves looking outside of ourselves for answers to why we think and feel as we do, we must remember to look within.

Because, my friends, within ourselves is the only place we will find the answers.

#coaching, #diet, #emotionalintelligence, #emotions, #exercise, #feeling, #journaling, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershippsychology, #meditation, #mindfulness, #reflecting, #samskaras, #self-development, #thinking, #thinkingandfeeling, #thoughtimpressions, #understandingyourself